Sydney Trades Hall
Trades Hall was built as the home for the emerging NSW union movement
About the building
The Sydney Trades Hall and Literary Institute was built from 1888 to 1917 to provide a meeting place for trade unionists and a place to help educate the workers of NSW. It was established as the Sydney Trades and Labour Council, today known as Unions NSW.
Australia’s first locally born architect, John Smedley, who had also practised in Japan, designed the building. It included union offices, meeting rooms, a library and a banner room. Trades Hall opened in 1895 and was subsequently enlarged in stages in the early 20th century.
The building has played a significant role in Australia’s modern political history. The Australian Labor Party in NSW originated from the Labour Council, and in 1925, radio station 2KY started broadcasting from the tower. More than 90 unions were on site in the early 20th century, and over the years peace groups, women’s organisations, anti-Apartheid groups, environmental groups and more have found a home here.
Visitors can see late-19th- and early-20th-century hand painted and woven union banners, union certificates, badges, photographs and posters, as well as the library established in 1890 and still housed in a purpose-built reading room from 1914.Built
Spain, Cosh & Minnett, 1903, 1911, 1917; GroupGSA, 2005
Find out more about this building here